Milan Fashion Week Men broadens horizons
Ever since Milan Fashion Week adopted a digital format, it has become more international in outlook. As shown by the busy calendar of the current menswear fashion week, featuring scores of labels from around the world, notably Tíscar Espadas and Mans from Spain, Franc Elis and Zenam from Africa, and 424 from California, all of them worthy of a close look.
424, from Californian cool to Italian tailoring
Californian label 424 is maturing, and is appearing for the first time on a fashion week calendar. Designer Guillermo Andrade has chosen Milan for his debut, after inking a distribution deal with Italian company 380group. 424’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection is presented in a short video, showing Californian artist Reggie waking up and getting dressed under the viewer’s gaze, and trying to pick a look suitable for his day.
Guatemala-born Andrade launched 424 in 2015, five years after setting up multibrand fashion retailer FourTwoFour in Los Angeles’s Fairfax district. A cult streetwear label, 424 has evolved more markedly this season towards a couture wardrobe, featuring double-breasted jackets, classic yet comfortable suits and shirts, matched with jeans, jersey essentials or a varsity-style jacket. The garments are nicely cut from quality materials, with a laid-back feel to them.
“I kept trying to find my own voice, though there was always something missing. But now I have a clear idea of what I want to show and share. I feel the time is right,” said Andrade in a press release, explaining why he has chosen Milan. Worth noting the quirky boots and sneakers, once again a collaboration with Adidas.
Mans's softened tailoring
Designer Jaime Álvarez has unveiled for Mans a colourful, exuberant and uber-fresh collection called ‘Summer Camp’, at once imaginative and classical. Álvarez, who borrowed part of his German grandfather’s name Demans for the Mans Concept Menswear label he founded in 2018, takes his audience on a countryside jaunt in a short film showing a gang of extravagant lads whose cool, retro charm has more than a touch of the eccentric.
Álvarez was born in La Luisiana, near Seville, and studied at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Madrid, where he is now based. He specialised as a tailor, and his collection indeed features a wide range of impeccably cut suits and classic men’s garments, infused with a light-hearted, nonchalant mood, bursting with bright colours and psychedelic prints.
The silhouettes are soft, with their comfy, relaxed fit and their youthful, summery touch. Mans’s classic jackets have an understated architecture, and jettison their habitual slim-fit cuts to morph into more comfortable overshirts. The shirts, like the jackets, are generously cut, worn over trim Bermuda shorts. Knitwear is lightweight, made with airy, flowing fabrics. The emphasis is on quality garments made in Spain.
Tíscar Espadas reinvents the suit
Like her compatriot Álvarez, designer Tíscar Espadas studied at IED in Madrid. Her collection is unveiled in a video clip narrating an open-country romp, as she visits a ranch’s estate with three friends. The film’s sepia tones heighten the retro mood of the collection, which features all the great menswear classics, only to reinvent them completely in a complex play of tailoring architecture, volumes and details.
Espadas is also an illustrator and was born in Úbeda, Andalusia. She studied at the Royal College of Art in London, thanks to a scholarship funded by Burberry, and in 2019 she set up her menswear label in the UK capital. The label is now distributed via some 15 multibrand retailers in Japan.
In the summer 2022 collection, Espadas has once again focused on artisanal techniques and craftsmanship, paying close attention to details and to the garments’ finishings, from the choice and arrangement of buttons to the plethora of frills, draped effects, laces, flaps and layering. White is the wardrobe’s dominant colour, enlivened by a series of wacky accessories, from pointed, elf-style woollen hats and bonnets to knee-high socks in thick red wool.
Zenam’s made-in-Italy Afro-couture
Zenam is styled by Cameroonian designer Paul Roger Tanonkou. The clothes are all made in Milan, where Tanonkou’s atelier is based, thanks to the support of Pluvial Ventures, a start-up incubator for migrants founded by Gaia Trussardi and Alex Legler. Self-taught Tanonkou has a degree in computer science and started out in fashion in 2004 with Zenam, an ethical, sustainable menswear label. Zenam’s summer 2022 collection is ostensibly genderless, though it mostly consists of suits and shirts.
In the Bamileke language of Cameroon, ‘zenam’ means ‘sunbeam’, a moniker certainly embodied by this highly colourful, print-rich collection, overflowing with traditional African motifs - masks, ethnic micro patterns and floral designs - on soft, lightweight cotton fabrics and crisp, fresh poplin in warm colours, a collection that simply oozes fluidity and joy.
Franc Elis, the art of detail
Cuts and details to the fore, from buttonholes to appliqué, from pockets, to braids and trimmings, at the show by Franc Elis, filmed at the label’s headquarters in Johannesburg. The label was launched in 2003 by the eponymous South African producer, well-known for its shirts. It is designed by Fabrice Moyo who, like Tanonkou of Zenam, enjoys the backing of Afro Fashion Association, the not-for-profit organisation founded in Italy by Michelle Francine Ngonmo.
For the Spring/Summer 2022, Franc Elis presented a series of monochrome suits, occasionally decorated with geometric inserts, in a matt colour palette ranging from sky blue to jade green, ochre, coral red and khaki. The garments are made in denim or cotton twill, and feature revised silhouettes with more contemporary, comfier cuts, associated with fine shirts in colourful printed African fabrics.
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